You gotta love technology! Up until this last weekend, I’ve made do with a hand beater during the three years I’ve been writing this blog. And, I never figured it was a big deal…
That is, until my hand beater gave up the ghost, and I was forced to buy a replacement. This time, though, I treated myself and spent a few hundred extra dollars on a proper stand mixer. And, while I couldn’t extend the budget so far as a new KitchenAid, I did get an equally great mixer at half price, due to the fact that it was going out of production.
Why didn’t someone tell me what a difference these machines make?! Apart from the obvious fact that you don’t have to stand there the whole time, as you do when using a hand beater, the quality of the whipping is beyond anything I’d imagined! I’d often wondered why my frosting was always a little dense; why I could never achieve that light-as-air butter cream that I’d sampled in shops. Well… I finally have my answer.
That answer came in the form of these gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting – the perfect recipe, I thought, to find out what this mixer was made of. The cake was deliciously light, moist, and beautifully textured with ground almonds. And… the frosting… oh my, the frosting! My sleek, silver mixer whipped that stuff like there was no tomorrow and I was rewarded with a cloud-like butter cream I could only dream of!
What’s cool too, is that the cupcakes are slightly hollowed out to encase a dollop of caramel sauce (which you can totally make yourself), before topping with the peanut butter cream frosting, extra caramel sauce and crushed roasted, salted peanuts.
Thanks to Food To Love for this fabulous recipe. I adapted it using gluten-free flour blend instead of regular flour, and added a quarter teaspoon more salt into the frosting (which I felt it definitely needed).
Not surprisingly, the cupcakes were pretty much inhaled within a couple of hours, though I did manage to keep a couple back for work-mates the following day, and I was pleased to find that the cakes were still moist and tender. These are definitely gourmet cupcakes and would grace the table at a multitude of occasions – from birthday parties, high teas, wedding receptions, graduations, baby showers… you name it… And, the fact that they’re easily adapted to gluten-free means that a lot more people can get to enjoy them!
- 60g (2.1 oz) dark (semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped coarsley
- 160ml (5.3 fl oz) water
- 90g (3.1 oz) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 metric cup (220g) (7.8 oz) firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100g (3.5 oz) self-raising flour (or use a gluten-free flour blend, with 1 teaspoon GF baking powder)
- 2 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
- 40g (1.4 oz) ground almonds (almond meal)
- 180ml (6 fl oz) good-quality store-bought caramel sauce (or make your own)
- 40g (1.4 oz) finely chopped salted peanuts
- 210g (7.4 oz) smooth peanut butter
- 185g (6.5 oz) salted butter, softened (or unsalted butter with 1/4 teaspoon salt)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons milk
- 200g (7 oz) icing (confectioners') sugar
- Preheat oven to 170°C (340°F). Line a 12-hole standard muffin pan with paper cases.
- Stir chocolate and the water* together in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth.
- Beat butter and sugar together until smooth, then add one egg at a time, beating after each addition until well incorporated. Stir in (or beat on low speed) sifted flour and cocoa, then ground almonds and the warm chocolate mixture. Spoon mixture evenly into paper cases.
- Bake about 25 minutes until the cakes have risen and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Stand cakes in pan for 5 minutes before turning, top-side up, onto a wire rack to cool.
- Beat peanut butter, butter, salt (if using) and milk in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sifted icing sugar.
- Cut a deep circle into the top of cold cakes; fill each hole to the top (but not overflowing) with caramel sauce.
- Spoon peanut butter cream into a large piping bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe swirls over the cakes. Drizzle with remaining caramel sauce and sprinkle with nuts.
- Store in fridge until you serve.
NB: Unfilled, un-iced cakes can be made a day ahead or frozen for up to 3 months.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting